I heard a saying a long time ago, "you can have nice things, or you can have children" and if you've raised kids you understand that children have a tendency to break, scratch, tear up, and stain furniture, carpet, the walls, and everything in between. Most of the time its by accident or by children being rambunctious, hyper, or playing a little too hard or careless. If you want to have nice things then you better not have children or live in your house because things overtime are going to become used, tattered, torn, stained, scratched, knocked over, dented, or worn over time.
Sometimes we take this same mentality into our church buildings. We treat these places like they are holy shrines. I am not sure exactly where this practice began, but the truth of scripture is God's presence is no longer in a place, but in a person. God dwells inside of each and every believer and the church is people, not a building or a place. There is nothing special or holy about a church building other than when the "church" meets there to worship. Holy is God and Holy is His people.
While I understand churches use God's money collected to provide places of worship, learning, and fellowship, and we want to take care of these facilities and take care of them like we would our homes or personal belongings. At the same time, they are meant to be used for ministry, service, fellowship, and worship and are not be worshipped or too much emphasis put on material things.
I've been in churches where it looked more like a museum than where ministry takes place, and it was treated like a shrine that couldn't be used or touched. In the bible they met in homes and local places and so they didn't have this type of distraction or problem. Its sad, but many folks care more about the carpet than they do lost souls, they care more about marks on the tables or dings on the wall then they do about loving people where they are with the love of Jesus. Do you see how easily it is to lose our focus and get distracted by worldly things?
I know many would argue, we paid a lot of money or that or this is God's house or something to that effect, but remember the things we spent God's money on were bought or built, so that they could be used by people for people. The house of God is each of us, not buildings or facilities. I'm all for taking care of our church properties and making them look good. We need to make good first impressions to people when they full in the parking lot, look at the outside of our buildings, or go in our auditoriums, classrooms, or gyms. We want our church vans and buses to be clean and taken care of, but again remember all these things are to be used to minister to people. God is to be worshipped, not things. People matter over things.
Even though we may try to keep our facilities updated, clean, looking fresh, or honor God with them, we also need to realize God is within us and that our focus should be all the people young and old who enter our doors. We want them to feel welcome, accepted, and loved. And yes, sometimes they are accident prone, thoughtless, or messy.
I will always work as a Minister to have updated, nice, and useable places to worship, serve, meet, gather, fellowship, and study. But, I always pray those things will only be means to reach the lost, make disciples, worship, fellowship, and gather as the church family.
Always remember church and ministry are about people and when you deal with people things will get worn, stained, broke, scratched, dented, used, ripped, and have natural wear and tear because of being used. Things can be replaced, repaired, or fixed. Souls and people cannot. Let's be the church and use our buildings, properties, vehicles, and whatever else we own to share the gospel and minister to people as we worship and serve the Lord.
1 Corinthians 3:9(niv)
For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:16(niv)
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?